Legislative Prospectus: Health Equity

December 29, 2021

Three young Black women socializing while wearing paper face masksPublic health officials work to improve the health of all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or social status. Discrimination based on a person’s physical characteristics of perceived social grouping is a psychosocial stressor linked to negative health outcomes such as high blood pressure and sleep disturbances. Policy decisions that implement or perpetuate racial discrimination to limit the well-being, opportunities, resources, or power are forms of structural racism.

To achieve optimal health for all, public health agencies are working with governmental and non-governmental partners to dismantle structural racism and other forms of structural discrimination. This work, commonly referred to as health equity, include strategies such as investing additional resources in historically under-resourced or disinvested communities, addressing inequities in social determinants of health, and supporting community-led solutions. There are many policy opportunities to support health equity across all levels of government.

The COVID-19 pandemic magnified existing health inequities for policymakers, with Black, Indigenous, and Latinx communities disproportionately impacted.

Many factors, including structural racism and low-wage jobs with little flexibility, contribute to higher rates of COVID-19 infection and death within these communities. Recent actions by state legislatures include declaring racism as a public health crisis, advancing efforts to improve collecting data on health disparities, and implementing legislative processes to promote health equity.

Download the prospectus